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An unhackable internet may be on the horizon

Stan Ward

Stan Ward

August 31, 2015

With the recent rash of hacks fresh in reader’s minds, the thought of an Internet immune from security breaches is great and welcome news. With the stench of the Ashley Madison fiasco still in the air, and the Pentagon and US government hacks still in the rear-view mirror, the indication of a security solution, however remote or distant, is cause for celebration and hope. An article appearing in Popular Science gives reasons for such hope, detailing an intriguing discovery.

Not being a geek or a nerd, I must admit that much of the information contained in article is daunting and a bit over my head, as it tosses around theories such as “quantum entanglement”, and jargon such as “photons”. It is not a speedy read or easy concept to get one’s arms around, but it may be worth your while to slog through it. I found the prospect of an unhackable Internet a promising proposition to contemplate, and one whose repercussions would be meaningful on many levels- including financially and morally!

The Internet that we know today depends on a series of connections – connections which can be interrupted or breached. Scientists may have proved, however, that entanglement, or the intimate quantum connection between particles, needs no intervening contacts to complete the circuit. It is evidently not a new concept,t as it was first broached by Albert Einstein in the mid-20th century when he alluded to the prospect of one particle responding to another particle without any messages passing through the space in between as being “spooky”. I merely admit to it being beyond me.

A new research paper emanating from the Netherlands posits that two seemingly separate objects can fuse into a single quantum entity. For example: poke an article, and a distant one will respond, even though it is  not connected in any physical way. What the researchers discovered in their experiment involving diamond chips which they placed more than 1000 meters apart in different buildings is that when they bombarded the chips with photons, the  particles in one chip mirrored the particles in the other despite the complete lack of connections.

This has excited physicists, who envision it as the origin of a new kind of communications network – a quantum version of the Internet. Particles so entangled and sent over such a network would be protected against hackers. as no-one could breach the system or eavesdrop without making their presence known. Hence, the security of the system will be guaranteed by the laws of physics.

But before you go out to corner the market in diamonds, you should be reminded that the idea is in its infancy, and that to be commercially viable the speed of connection has to be greatly increased. Still, when one considers how far we’ve come with, say, telephone technology in 150 years, or more to the point, computer technology in the last 30 years, a hack-free Internet is a joyful prospect to contemplate and one which might warrant closely watching cyber- security companies’ stocks if you want to get in on the ground floor.

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